Bare with me here. I’m going to deviate from my usual writing about running and write about an animal.
A dog specifically.
A dog named Roscoe.
In October of 2006 we brought our first puppy into our family. Emma had just turned two and Riley had yet to be born. Elyse was pregnant with her. Bringing the boxer pup into the house, now known to us as Chloe, was a fight that I won my wife over on. You see my wife wasn’t a dog person. She liked cats. At this time we had an aging dog from my youth, Anya sharing her last days with us. I figured a puppy would help ease the transition.
In December my Uncle contacted me about a boxer that he had taken from a relative and needed a home. He was almost 9 months old, but needed to go somewhere as my uncle had several dogs and couldn’t keep him. I talked to my wife and because the baby was due in January, it wasn’t a solution for us either at the time. I talked to our neighbor Jim to see if he might be able to take him for the time being until after the baby was born. Reluctantly he agreed.
The first time I met Roscoe the immediate thing I remember was how hyper and loud he was. The dog was all over the place.
He also wasn’t named Roscoe, his name was Hogan, after my Grandma’s last name. I figured he needed a clean slate, and giving his immediate stupidty, I officially registered him in the AKC as Sir Roscoe of Hazzard County.
Anyone who is familiar with the Dukes of Hazzard will understand.
After a few months, Riley was born, my wife was settled, Anya passed away and we brought him into our house. In comparison to the 6 month old puppy, he was a high school dropout and Chloe a Harvard grad on a brain surgeon degree. The dogs couldn’t have been on more opposite ends of the spectrum regarding their intelligence and training.
We quickly learned that Roscoe had a fear of belts, and would rip gloves off your hands if you were wearing them. Things that led me to wonder about what happened in his 9 months after birth.
We also found out he liked to jump.
We built a swing gate in our driveway and learned that it was too short. At 4 feet tall the dog cleared it with ease and frequented the park and kids down the street.
He grew lanky and tall quickly.
The dog was all over the place and I tried to reign him in, putting him thru my own doggy bootcamp. Once he was neutered his craziness subsided but it took us over a year to get this dog into a good place and erase all of his (most of his) bad habits and lack of training.
I also feel it helped having Chloe there. She was a teacher and despite being younger, put him in his place on several occasions. The first time we went camping with him, we discovered his penchant for separation anxiety. Whenever I walked away, he would howl and bark till I returned no matter who was there. The more he was around my wife over the years this eventually transferred to her. He became my wife’s shadow, and in the process my wife’s dog.
Over the years we watched his character enrich and enhance our lives. He had a goofiness and personality about him that you were just helpless not to love.
He was a joker, a comedian, a ballerina, a horse, a beggar, a magician, a friend, a brother, a son.
I never suspected losing him would come this early or affect me this much. But sometimes you just don’t know the touch one has until they are gone. We always laughed at his goofiness, his inkling to do things we thought were wierd, or funny. His begging that would go on for minutes and feel like you were having an actual conversation, the way he would talkback to you if you told him to do something. His full on run into the house, run circles, and then hang upside down on the couch. The times we found him sleeping on the girls bed, or at our feet pinning us unable to move. The way he loved to prance around in the water when we took him for a walk. How he let you know if you missed his food time. How whenever you walked thru the door, you were at that moment the most important person in the world. His big wet slobbery kisses. Or the way an 85lb dog was a lap dog, whether you were sitting on the couch or in a 1 person camp chair, he always wanted to be there. He had a sense when you had a bad day and would put his head on your lap.
In all my years of questioning how bright this dog actually was, I finally discovered one night when he wanted to get on the couch and Chloe was in his spot. He went and found her squeaky, walked up to her, squeaked it and ran away. She of course followed him to where he dropped it as he snuck back and stole her spot. I thought it was just a coincidence the first time, but after watching him to do it many times over (and try to do it with me once) I realized he had a lot going on up stairs.
Over the last couple months he was dealing with an ear infection, furiously shaking his head and wandering the house all ours of the night. A little over a month ago, he had his first small seizure. Then another. After going a couple weeks we thought the worst would pass, then he had a big one (grand mal) that had him falling off the couch, walking into walls, into the bathtub, peeing uncontrollably and wandering in circles. We immediately got him into the vet. She would put him on some seizure prevention medicine. But we noticed quickly that Roscoe was no longer Roscoe. He was blind in one eye, could barely hear and would walk circling for hours on end. He could no longer go up or down stairs on his own without falling, or lay down or get up without being helped.
Then it seemed as he was no longer here. A zombie of a dog, so far removed from his former self. Elyse noticed it first. Her shadow was gone, his characteristic talk back, his goofiness had vanished.
On Tuesday he had 3 seizures in the span of an hour.
After trying to make it thru another night, my gut told me what I already knew.
It was time.
I had Elyse call the vet and set things up.
It was time to say goodbye to Roscoe.
He was in pain, he was no longer living his life.
I came home from work, we talked to our girls and then ELyse and I took him out for 1 last walk in the water with Chloe. The last time the two would be together. Afterwards we took him to enjoy a bacon cheeseburger, some fries and a vanilla icecream. Then we went to the vet.
I held him, and his head. It was hard.
It was hard to say goodbye to this guy.
Some may say he was just a dog, an animal, well yes in the end he was. But he was ours, and we were his. 8 years he was part of our life and he made it enjoyable and fun, he gave us laughter and craziness. I had a connection with him I don’t have with most people, even some family members. For being a dog, he was family.
I woke up at 5am this morning, noticing how quiet it was. No pacing, no head shaking, no snoring, no clomping down or up the stairs. The things that helped remind us Roscoe was there.
But now he isn’t.
After returning from the vet yesterday, I needed some time to process, so I went for a run. But this time I took Roscoes tags and stuck them in my pocket. I had never gotten the chance to run with Roscoe, as his hips couldn’t take it when I finally got back into running, but now I did. I imagined him running along side at full bore tongue wagging and a goof y smile.
For when I think of Roscoe that is what I think of. He even gave me one last glimpse of that in the car on the way to the vet, lapping up the air big ol smile. But just as quickly as it came, it went. He touched our family deeply, I was so glad to have the 8 years to spend with him, and can’t wait to see him once again someday.
Roscoe buddy, you were one of a kind.